Scuba Diving Utila
Known for having some of the top dive sites in the Caribbean, it is renowned for whale shark encounters as well.
The beautiful tropical island of Utila, nestling in the Caribbean Sea and is located approximately 18 miles (29 km) from the Honduras mainland port of La Ceiba. The island is just 11 km/8miles long and 4 km/3miles at its widest and surrounded by vast coral reefs with prolific undersea life. The smallest of the major islands in The Bay Islands group, we are renowned as being one of the least expensive and most beautiful places in the world for a scuba diving holiday.
Most of the population lives in East Harbour located on the eastern end of the island.. Accommodations on the island range from luxury resorts to hostels that mainly carter to the backpacker crowd. More laid back than Roatan, many divers compare it to Roatan a decade or so ago as commercial development is just starting on the island.
You will not find International or even National chain restaurants and hotels in Utila. Most all businesses are run by local families or people living here.
Whether you are on a back-packing tour to travel Central America or just on a short Caribbean vacation away from the busy office, the friendly island people will ensure your time spent here will be a relaxing and delightful experience you will treasure and want to share with your family and friends
SCUBA DIVING UTILA
On the island of Utila, which borders on the Mesoamerican barrier reef system, (the 2nd largest reef in the world after the Australian Great Barrier Reef), you will discover some of the most beautiful beaches, coral reefs, and tropical island sunsets in the world.
Utila’s crystal blue waters host over 90% of marine inhabitants found in the Caribbean, including schools of Blue Tangs, Southern Sennetes, and scores of other brilliantly colored Tropical fish. . Almost like watching a circus act, it is not unusual to see schools of different fish pass by during the same dive Everything from a myriad of juvenile reef residents to the larger , Manta Rays, Spotted Eagle Rays, and Moray Eels can be seen.
If you’re looking to spot a whale shark, it can be done all year, but the best chance is off the north shore from March to May and again from August to October. All dive sites are accessible by a short boat ride, and offer a diversity of sheer walls and dropoffs on the north side, fringing reef systems on the south side, with many offshore seamounts and banks.
Many dive shops are located along one street that fronts up to the ocean.
With over 100 different scuba diving sites to choose from, including caves and numerous wrecks (such as the famous Halliburton), scuba diving is always interesting and never crowded.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
Most of Utila’s divers frequent sites are on the south side of the island, simply because they are quicker and easier to get to from East Harbour than the north side, and also the waters are more protected and tend to be calmer.
The North side of Utila is best known for its drop-offs, which are considered deep dives. The upper edge of the wall begins anywhere from 55-85 feet, with each dive site having its own personality and marine growth. Inshore from the drop-offs, excellent medium to shallow coral reefs can be found with diving depths ranging from 20-55 feet which allows both novice and expert divers to enjoy the sites. Utila’s waters also house three wreck sites in varying sizes and depths.
CJ’s Drop Off, at the western end of the reef in front of Turtle Harbour, is famed among divers for the vertigo-inducing coral cliffs plunging straight down into the blue depths. As you descend along the wall, watch for sting rays, moray eels, and hawksbill turtles, and the profusion of giant sponges and hard corals.
Willie’s Hole is a dramatic open cave in the coral wall at around 25 meters, with plenty of pillar and star corals to admire, along with sponges. Blackish Point is a system of caverns and passages in the reef wall at around 20 meters, with encrusted overhangs to check out. The gentle current makes this a good drift dive.
Airport Caves: West. offers the SCUBA diver many beautiful swim-thrus in the rock formations with great visibility and rich marine life
Jack Neil Point and Jack Neil Beach: are both great long, shallow dives along the tongue-and-groove formations of hard and soft corals. At the western end of the reef here, sightings of hawksbill and green turtles are common.
Pretty Bush and Black Coral Wall: are two good ones. Among the many similar dives along the southern wall, each starting in around 4 meters of water and dropping to about 30 meters at the base of the reef, Despite the name of the latter dive, young black coral is found all along the wall here, as are elkhorn and pillar coral, sea fans, and frequent spotted eagle rays cruising at the deeper sections along the reef wall.
DIVE SEASON: You can dive the Bay Islands all year long, but the tropical, rainy season runs from October to January. The Bay Islands’ southern Caribbean location means that hurricanes sometimes pass by to the north. Hurricane season is June to the end of November. While the weather is consistently good year-round, during the rainy season (roughly October to January) visibility can dip below the usual 30-45 meters/100-150 feet.
VISIBILITY: Generally the viz runs 24-45 metres/80-150 feet.During the rainy season (roughly October to January) visibility can dip below the usual 30-45 meters/100-150 feet.
WATER TEMPERATURE: Nice warm water, varying Jan-Mar 78f, July-Sept 82F
CURRENTS: Mostly mild, but can vary by location
WEATHER: Warm tropical weather is the norm, with little change in temperature from winter to summer. Average annual temperature is 85° F/29.4° C. Humidity is usually high, especially from May to September.
ACCESIBILITY: Most oi the dives sites are a few moments away by boat
SKILL LEVELS:Divers of all levels will find the Bay Islands exciting. Deep diving experience or advanced training is recommended at some sites due to depth and wreck training is recommended for divers interested in exploring the various wrecks.
MARINE LIFE : There are more than 300 identified fish species in Bay Island waters. Divers frequently see dolphin, grouper, rays, barracuda, angelfish, butterfly fish, grunts, parrotfish, yellow tail snapper, horse eye jack, octopus, lobsters, crabs, moray eels, hammerhead sharks and of course Utila’s renown whale sharks.
CLIMATE: Subtropical in lowlands, temperate in mountains. Hurricane season is June to the end of November. Air Temperature Jan-Mar is about 81F, April-Sept is about 87F
LANGUAGE: Spanish, Amerindian dialects. Although Spanish is the official language, English is widely spoken on Roatan and Bay Islands (especially in the West End and West Bay communities).
ELECTRICITY: 110 volts 60 Hz, US-style three pin plugs are the norm.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The Lempira (HNL). The US Dollar is accepted at some resorts and businesses and credit cards are widely accepted
GRATUITIES: Tipping is the norm. The standard practice is 10 percent of the total bill but this is optional if the bill includes a 10 percent service charge. Small tips for the housecleaning staff are customary.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: There are high speed internet cafes in communities and popular tourist areas. Wireless Internet connections for laptops are available for purchase. There are three cell phone providers on Roatan: Digicel, Claro and TIGO. Cell phones are inexpensive to purchase and 100 Lempira (HNL) will give you a significant amount of talk time for local calls.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: All foreign visitors must have a valid passport to enter the country and are typically granted a 90-day tourist card.
GETTING THERE: The main International Airports in Honduras are located in Tegucigalpa (the national capital), San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, and Roatán. International flights to/from Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula operate daily to/from USA airports of Miami (American Airlines) and Houston (Continental Airlines) The only airlines that currently offer scheduled flights to Utila are Aerolineas SOSA (via La Ceiba) on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. CM Airlines operate flights on Saturday only (from San Pedro Sula and Roatán) and Island Air (based in Utila) operates scheduled flights to/from Roatán on Saturday and to/from La Ceiba on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. All flights to/from Roatán and San Pedro Sula are designed to connect with incoming and outgoing international flights. All flights are operated with small 9-20 passenger seat aircraft.
CUSTOMS: You may bring items that are for your personal use on your visit or for you to conduct your profession or trade without paying import duties assuming the items are appropriate for your trip. The items may not be for commercial use such as goods for resale. Scuba divers should not bring spearguns. They are prohibited on the Bay Islands and will be held at the airport until you leave the country.
DEPARTURE TAX: The new international departure tax for foreigners is now US$33.19. All adults, children and infants pay this flat fee. It is a strange amount, but it is SET FIRM in USD (does NOT change monthly) but payable in local currency which fluctuates. It is payable ONLY in cash – either USD or Honduran Lempira, or a mixture of the two. They will NOT accept Credit Cards!
More information on Honduras
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